Achievement Tests a Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, October 10, 1912:  The whole school was examined today in order to find out our deficiencies. I know what mine is.

Recent photo of building that once housed the McEwensville School.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

We hear so much today about state tests being used for accountability purposes. I’ve always thought that the use of tests to see how students were doing was a relatively new phenomenon—but apparently the use of standardized large-scale assessments has been around for at least a hundred years. What as the test that Grandma took like? . . . and what were her “deficiencies”?

This is the second time in the diary that Grandma has suggested that schools were somehow evaluated for quality. The previous year, on September 29, 1911, she wrote:

Teacher has rearranged our classes, and now we’ll have the program every now and then to see where our class comes.

4 Responses

  1. We’re always being measure for one thing or another aren’t we? I used to hate test days. Even when I was well prepared, I’d get sick to my stomach. And especially if it was a timed test. I’d almost freeze when they’d say ‘go’….oh man, I’m glad that’s long done

  2. I couldn’t help but laugh. I like her sense of humor!

  3. yes, school certainly can point out our deficiencies sometimes–why does it never measure the good stuff, like creativity and friendliness, and gettting along with your peers?

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